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  • Forensic Marketing: Discovering What Works

Three major motives drive automotive marketing tactics and optimization of the way a dealer advertises – reaching the target audience, assuring financial efficiency for great ROI, and discovering what works best for their particular market. In order to make that bottom line thrive and to get the message to the right group of people, the crucial first step involves finding the right tactics. Discovering what works in your dealership marketing essentially helps to optimize toward the proper channels and strategies through the testing of theories that are based on fact. 

How can you improve your dealership’s grasp on the local area? How do you determine what is going to best capture the attention and interest of the parties most likely to make a purchase from you? Advertising is a forensic science in many ways, and it takes a lot of digging to get to the answers. 

Trial and Error 


When you think of trial and error, you probably imagine random efforts with no backing, but that’s not how it works in the marketing world. When it comes to automotive marketing tactics, testing out theories based on actual information is the way to start. Where do you source the information used to make the inferences required? Take a look at your current customer base. 

The CRM manages the information you’ll want to utilize. Every dealer has access to their customers’ information, from their name and address to the type of car they purchased or leased. Find patterns in this information. Likely, you’ll find that many of your customers come from particular zip codes or neighborhoods, perhaps because of convenience or possibly due to the makes and models you have, related to their income demographic. All of this good stuff is how you get to amazing automotive insights.

When you find a pattern, you can target that audience more heavily, much the way a forensic profiler searches for culprits. You now know who has been buying, so you can create a general ‘look-alike’ profile to target for future purchases. Once you have this, it’s time to determine the type of dealership marketing that will work best. 

If You Find Them, They Will Come 


In the past, the simple solutions were broad reach by advertising on a limited set of media options. This is no longer the case, and you have to seek out your target audience where they are. That means doing the research. Especially if you’re targeting the younger generation, you should focus on social media, mobile, and other digital advertising tactics. For all age groups, however, automotive marketing that focuses on digital advertising tactics is much more likely to get higher response. 

Short video ads capture attention, and social ads on the right platforms can go a long way in creating a larger customer base. But to determine what sort of messaging your target audience will respond to requires more research into current customers, as well as more trial and error. 

When you promote a sale at your dealership, consider the messaging you use and the media type. That way, you can compare it to volume of calls, email leads, and general foot traffic to the sales floor. Follow through to see if sales volume also increased. If it seems that a particular digital ad format worked well, leading to greater ROI, you can benefit from trial and error by continuing to utilize that format or message in the future. 

Also, compare the quantity as well as quality of traffic brought in by the automotive marketing tactics you use. Even if you don’t get a high number of people visiting the dealership from a particular digital marketing tactic, you could be getting more relevant traffic, with those people more likely to buy or lease. 

Know the Consumer Journey 

The marketing funnel applies to the automotive industry, perhaps even more so than to general retail purchases. Buying or leasing a vehicle is a big commitment, with lots of decisions to make along the way – new or used, body style, manufacturer, acceptable expense, etc. This makes purchasing a car a long process for the consumer. 

Staying in front of that consumer every step of the way, from awareness to action, can make a huge difference in the likelihood that consumer is going to come to your dealership for that action. But what is the best way to do so, and what dealership marketing messages should you be using at which steps? 

This is another area in which you’ll need to test your options. However, make sure you tailor your marketing spend. You don’t want to spend a fortune on awareness. Of course, you want consumers to know you exist, but you shouldn’t pour all of your dealership marketing budget into brand awareness. Rather, use your data to focus more heavily on in-market audiences who are further down the funnel and in the consideration and intent phases. Utilizing digital automotive marketing tactics can really help move these consumers along into the purchase phase and guide them to your dealership, as long as you are catering to their interests. 

Homing in on what works essentially involves a lot of trial and error, but those trials have a basis in market and individual dealership research. Over time, the results will help determine which of your dealership advertising tactics, messages, and formats reach the target audience and achieve the best results in terms of return on investment. 

Discovering what works without wasting money adds another complexity to the issue. However, with the right mindset and efficiency, you can come out on top. We’ll discuss this in the next installment. Consider, in the meantime, trusting a partner with proven automotive marketing experience to assure you have the time you need to manage your business and work with consumers. 

We are experts in forensic marketing, with the right tools and an eagerness to dig into how best to motivate consumers to make their automotive purchases with you.  


Contact us to request a Dealer Scorecard and learn more about what works best for you. 


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